Many believe that consulting skills (and by proxy case interview skills) are amongst some of the most useful skills in business.
While I do agree with this statement, I do think there is another skill that is infinitely more useful in both business and in life.
It is the skill of overcoming rejection or adversity.
Life is not always easy. The ability to persist in the face of adversity comes in quite handy.
This skill requires very little brain power to learn. All you have to do is this:
When you fall down, just get back up. That's it!
Yes, it sounds oh so simple... and yet you and I both know, at times it can be mighty hard. But that skill, more than anything else, is responsible for more people's success in more fields than anything else.
The most successful people are quite often the most determined.
Sometimes the most simple things are the hardest to do in practice. Here's why.
When you "fail" at something, most people start an inner dialogue with themselves.
"What am I doing?"; "I'm lousy as this!"; "Aghhhhhh!!!!!"; "What the @!$*!"
... you get the picture.
Translated, all of these phrases confer the same meaning... they represent the concept of "self doubt." More people have had their goals, ambitions and dreams crushed by their own self doubt, than by some outside force.
Those who succeed are not impervious to their emotions. They still feel them. They still have that inner dialogue with themselves regarding self doubt.
The difference is in that final second... when one decides to stay lying down or to make the extra effort to get back up... the most determined people in the world get back up.
I was reminded of this recently when I met the author of one of my favorite books. We were both attending the same conference and happened to sit down at the same breakfast table.
His name is Kyle Maynard. Kyle has an interesting story worth studying.
You see Kyle was born without a right arm. Not only that, but he was also born without a left arm too.
Think for a moment what your life would be like without your arms.
Now add in the fact that Kyle was born without a right leg... and without a left leg too.
That's right, Kyle doesn't have any arms or legs on his body.
In his New York Times Best Selling book, he describes how his parents raised him. They knew he would have a difficult time in life. Instead of feeling sorry for him or "helping" him by doing things for him, they expected him to take careof himself. Feed himself. Clean up his own clothes. Do his homework.
As a child, Kyle "failed" a lot. Everything in life IS harder without arms or legs. Yet something interesting happened.
As he kept falling down (literally) and getting back up, he found that he fell down slightly less often. The more he tried to do something, despite initial difficulties, it would get easier... until eventually he could do things such as walk up or down some stairs.
Along the way, his parents taught him to not complain. There are no excuses in life. "I don't care if you have no arms or legs, you still need to clean your room" (that's not an exact quote, but you get the idea).
Though it might seem harsh to parent this way, it worked.
While life is tough, Kyle was raised to be tougher. He learned to get back up when he fell down (and he fell down a lot).
Not only that, he also learned to succeed at things you might not expect someone with his "limitations" to attempt, let alone do well.
For example, in high school, Kyle was wrestler and won numerous regional championships. More recently, Kyle was the first "quad-amputee" to compete in a mixed martial arts competition.
He mentioned to me (I think confidentially, so I won't share details) about the next world record he intends to break.
He is really quite remarkable, and I was very excited to meet him in person.
If you haven't ever read his book, it's worth doing so. Kyle's book is titled (very appropriately I might add):
If you have every struggled in your life. If you've ever had self doubt. If you've every had self pity and let yourself feel like a victim, I encourage you to read Kyle's book, "No Excuses."
It's an inspirational read.
Trust me. After you read it, you can't help but be embarrassed by taking pity on yourself in anything you've done. I found none of the problems I've had in life have come anywhere close to the adversity Kyle has faced.
If he can face his challenges, without complaining and "excuses," the least you and I can do is do the same.